By Michael Zeff/TPS
Jerusalem (TPS) – Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Justice Ministry Director General Emi Palmor announced at a joint press conference on Wednesday evening that gambling machines and horse racing are to be outlawed in Israel.
“Israel’s weakest and poorest are being sold illusions and false hopes every day,” said Minister Kahlon. “As of next year, there will not be a single gambling machine or any horse racing in Israel.”
There are currently some legal forms of gambling permitted in Israel though most are outlawed. The only authorities licensed to provide gambling services are Mifal HaPayis, which operates the Israeli national lottery, and the Sports Betting Council, which manages betting on various sports events. The gambling machines belong to the lottery while horse-race betting is run through the Sports Betting Council.
The announcement was made after a report published on Wednesday by the Commission on Gambling Regulations, a joint think-tank headed by the directors general of the two ministries.
The commission’s recommendations include a limit on the size of the legal gambling sector, a prohibition on operating games with an addictive nature, a tax raise on money earned through gambling, and various other limitations.
The report expects the implementation of its recommendations to drastically curb the growth of the gambling sector in Israel and thus decrease its influence on the Israeli population.
Minister Kahlon announced that he would adopt and implement the recommendations to their full extent.
“It is no coincidence that these gambling machines are found mostly in poor neighborhoods. It is also not a coincidence that we see a sharp rise in lottery revenue the day after welfare checks are sent out every month,” Kahlon explained.
The report claims that while a certain percentage of the gambling revenue accrued by these authorities is meant to go to charity and to state education and welfare projects, only a small amount actually does.
The report further states that there will be a reduction in the operating costs of the Sports Betting Council and the lottery, such as in advertising and sales commissions, thus increasing the state’s share of the revenue.
“Unregulated gambling exclusively and deliberately targets and hurts the country’s weakest communities so as long as I am finance minister, there will be no casinos in Israel,” concluded Kahlon.